Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.

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Why 'Poop' and 'Wiggle' Are Funny Words, According to Science

That old comedian's advice that the "k" sound is always good for a laugh has been proven true, too.

A Shrewdness of Apes? Collective Nouns Are a 500-Year-Old Language Fad

Groups of animals sure have some funny names. You can thank the Book of St. Albans for that.

Why Do We Scratch Our Heads When We're Thinking?

How did this natural tic become the signal for so many social expressions?

How the Alphabet May Have Destroyed Goddesses

Goddesses once reigned supreme across many cultures. So what happened, and did written language hasten their fall?

'What in Sam Hill'? 5 Ways Your Grandma Used to Swear

What in the world did Grandma mean when she used words like "tarnation"?

The People of Martha's Vineyard Once Shared a Sign Language

And everyone used it, not just the local deaf community.

Mansplain, Dumpster Fire: The Dictionary Just Got (850 Words) Bigger

Merriam-Webster added 850 new words to its popular online dictionary. Learn which words the dictionary added for 2018.

Why Rudeness Is So Contagious

Rudeness is not just a personal annoyance. It can actually affect health and safety. Why is that? And why do we replay a rude interaction over and over in our heads?

Nearly Every English Word Is Trademarked

How could we run out of trademarked words? It sounds impossible, but it's growing more and more likely.

Cake, Candles and Check: Who Pays the Birthday Dinner Bill?

It doesn't get more awkward than the check arriving and no one knows who's paying for what. Is it rude to expect birthday guests to pay for their own meal?

6 Punctuation Marks That Don't Exist But Totally Should

Which of these would you like to see on your computer keyboard?

Why Do We Have Middle Names?

Middle names aren't a purely modern invention, so why do we still have them?

Why Spellcheck Is So Good and Grammar Check Is So Bad

You were probably used to red squiggles showing up for spelling errors and green ones for grammatical errors in Microsoft Word documents. But why was the red usually right and the green usually wrong?

No Offense: 5 Passive-aggressive Sayings We Can Do Without

You know them. They're the people who act like they're not mad, but really are. They're passive aggressive and say some of these five zingers.

Boston, New York, Texas: The Origins of These and Other Great American Accents

What does Boston have against the letter R? Why do Minnesotans sometimes drag out the 'O' sound?

Dotard, Slumgullion, and Other Gloriously Archaic Insults

Kim Jong Un called Donald Trump a dotard. Here are some equally entertaining, out-of-date options the 45th president could've thrown back in his face.

Illustrator Unearths a Forgotten 19th-century Albanian Alphabet

The alphabet's been lost for hundreds of years, but a designer is bringing it back to light with a new digital font dubbed "Albanian Helvetica."

Is It 'Theater' or 'Theatre'?

What's the meaning behind how we spell theater and theatre? And does it really matter?

It's a Small World, and It's Wiping Out Languages

The world boasts about 7,000 languages. Close to half are threatened with extinction.

How Accents Work

Despite what you might think, everyone has an accent. It just becomes noticeable when it's different from others in the same community. How do accents develop and why is it so hard to lose one?

Taking Up Two Parking Spaces Is Clearly Horrible, But May Not Be Illegal

Surely a level of Hell is reserved for inconsiderate parkers. But can the police actually write them a ticket? Well, it depends...

Do You Have to Pull Over for a Funeral Procession?

Few rules on funeral procession are enshrined in law; most are just customs. But that doesn't mean you should break them.

Why Is Chuck the Short for Charles and Bill the Short for William?

There's no 'U' in Charles or 'B' in William, so how did those get to be the nicknames?

Where Did 'Shirt and Shoes Required' Come From?

Nope, it has nothing to do with the health department.